Planning Rule 101

The National Forest Management Act (NFMA) of 1976 requires every national forest or grassland managed by the Forest Service to develop and maintain an effective Land Management Plan (also known as a  Forest Plan).  The process for the development and revision of plans, along with the required content of plans, is outlined in planning regulations, often referred to as the planning rule (the 2012 Planning Rule is the current rule).  Managers of individual forests and grasslands follow the direction of the planning rule to develop a land management plan specific to their unit.

A graphic showing the forest planning process

More information on the National Forest Management Act (NFMA):

More Information and the current and past Forest Service planning rules:

  • The Under Secretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and Environment has signed the 2012 Planning Rule for the National Forest System. The planning rule was published in the Federal Register on April 9, 2012, and it became effective 30 days following the publication date on May 9, 2012.
  • Previously the Forest Service was operating under the transition provisions of the 2000 Planning Rule, as an interim measure until the 2012 Planning Rule was issued.  The 2000 Planning Rule allowed forests to develop, revise, and amend forest plans using the procedures of the 1982 Planning Rule.
  • All existing forest plans have been developed using the 1982 Planning Rule procedures.
  • Implementation of planning rules developed during 2005 and 2008 was halted as a result of actions in the Northern District Court of California
  • Further information on the history of forest planning is on this website on the History of Forest Planning page.

More information on Forest Plans: